Ramblers on stolen snail trail

WALKERS in Bedfordshire are being asked to keep their eyes to the ground to see if snail snatchers are in operation in the area.

A 70 per cent depletion of the slippery creatures in nearby Surrey has prompted The Ramblers Association to highlight the issue of snail snatchers. A police investigation was launched in Surrey after it was believed that restaurants were poaching Roman snails.

Thought to be worth a �1 each, the snails are being scavenged and turned into gourmet dishes. But this is an illegal practice, as the snails are a protected species.

Ramblers spokesman Sam Newby-Ricci said: “We are keen to hear from any local ramblers who may have noticed a decline in the number of snails in Bedfordshire. It might be difficult to tell, but ramblers are extremely familiar with their local countryside and know what is normal and what is not. I hope that if there has been any illicit plundering of snail stocks, we could alert the relevant authority appropriately.”

Roman snails typically have a body length of about 10cm (4 ins) and a shell measuring 5cm in diameter. Its brown shell has a creamy tint which lightens with age.

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